Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I had dinner tonight with a friend whose former school has been divided into "learning communities." The student body is just as big as it ever was, but on paper the school is smaller because each learning community is counted as a different school. Now there are classes with 38 and 39 students in them, because they are singletons in that community. Our wonderful union seems to have no problem with this.

One of the things she told me that distresses me the most is the treatment of special education students. In one of these communities, all the special education students are mainstreamed into math A, good old GW and his goal of NO STUDENT LEFT BEHIND. There are 38 students in the class. There is one teacher and no paras or aids. There is a girl in the class whose IEP says that her goal for the semester is to obtain 80% proficiency in understanding bar graphs. This poor kid is doomed to failure.

Instead of creating programs that look good on paper, the schools need to create programs that work and can help the kids.

This friend of mine retired in June. She wasn't really ready to retire, but she couldn't deal with the nonsense in her school anymore. All her classes weren't easy to teach. All her students were not good. These were not the things that drove her out. More and more experienced teachers are leaving because of all this bull sh** we are dealing with every day. Not only does no one in power care, but they are glad about it. One less experienced teacher means a lower payroll--two new bodies for the price of one. One less experienced teacher means one less teacher to question the actions of the administration. Besides, who really cares if the teacher is any good? A kid who can't read a bar graph or can't make change will never be able to succeed in math anyway. So what if the teacher is no good.

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